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English as a foreign language

Living as a German in an increasingly English-speaking world

Things I don’t like

2011-06-24: Apple totally loses it.

I know it’s only a patent application at this point. I know there is no guarantee there will be a marketable product at the end of this. But to even think about this kind of thing proves yet again in which low regard Apple holds the interests of their customers.

It’s not the first time either. Hardly alone in this, Apple has always been at the forefront of denying their customers the right to make full use of the hardware they have bought from them. This, at the moment, is primarily true of iOS devices, but with the Mac App Store it will increasingly be true for the Macintosh platform too. (The only Apple device I own, an iPod Nano 4g, continues to be unaffected as long as iTunes continues to import any MP3 file, whatever its origins, and upload it to the iPod. Not something to be taken for granted though. Maybe I should save a copy of the current version of iTunes.)

In case you are wondering what I am talking about: reportedly, Apple has applied for a patent for an encoded infra-red signal that would cause any digital camera so equipped to refuse to record images if so told by said infra-red signal. The stated use case would be cinemas but it is only natural that it would mainly be employed by abusive police forces, like we get to see so often these days in Germany. Or Libya. Or Syria. Or the US.

Let’s consider the hypothetical fact that I owned a device that has been enabled in the way the patent – as widely reported – describes. A third party which is not under any control from anyone, like a theatre owner or an abusive police force, can set up a signal to a device that I own, that I have paid for with my own money, so that said device will disobey the commands of its rightful owner to activate the “Record” function. This is so outrageous it actually defies belief. I can, to a point, see why fanbois will happily turn over control of their devices to Apple Inc. – I still find it revolting, but why not, it’s a religion, so to a point reason is suspended. But to enable third parties to do that, and such a sensitive function – think “Arab Spring”?

I hope they receive their just reward. I can’t see how anyone could spend a dollar (or even a Eurocent) on an Apple product again after this.

2011-04-28: So somebody is going to get married tomorrow.

Why would I care? It’s not someone I know. It is not someone of any extraordinary accomplishment. The only thing that makes this person special (beyond the fact that everyone is special, of course, in their own way), or let’s say different from the not-so-different rest of us, is his ancestry. His ancestors were people who, in times long gone, conspired with the church to form a kind of clerical-noble complex to keep poor people poor and miserable and enrich themselves by telling them that nobility comes from God, and God wants everybody to be miserable during their worldly lives so they can be happy after death. (Guess what, the joke’s on the poor people, as all you’ll ever going to be after your death is dead.)

Or maybe not so long gone, come to think of it.

And German public television totally upends their programming schedule because of this? Incredible. All with my user fees.

2010-10-22: Flying out of London

Flying from Gatwick this time, but the same applies to Heathrow as well.

They won’t tell you your gate at check-in, like at a decent airport. (Hey, in Berlin-Tegel I can look up my gate on the web before I leave home, so I can tell the taxi driver to let me off directly in front of it!) They probably don’t know yet, either. So you are shooed into a “lounge” area with lots of very expensive shops, restaurants and bars, but not always enough seats, much less seats with a view to one of the screens on which the gate info is displayed at some point, without an announcement.

My boarding pass tells me that the gate closes at 19:25 – if I’m not at the gate at that time, I can be denied transportation. The info screen tells me the gate for my flight opens at 19:15, but it doesn’t tell me which one. It also helpfully informs me that it takes approximately twenty minutes to reach the gates farthest away from the lounge. Hmm. This isn’t going to turn out well.

Well, I have been through this procedure at Heathrow often enough to know that there is no real reason to worry. In Heathrow, sometimes the announced “Gate opens” time passes without any further information. Yesterday, in Gatwick, the screen switched to “Go to Gate 22” at about 19:10. Guess what – Gate 22 is one of the gates farthest from the lounge. But any reasonably able-bodied person like myself can reach Gate 22 in less than ten minutes. And the gate doesn’t close at 19:25, it’s probably more like 19:45. But you are still reduced to stare at the info screen around the announced time waiting for it to change silently. Standing.

Somehow I, as a passenger, don’t feel taken seriously. I am just a “pax”, countable like sheep in a herd, a piece of cargo that is even expected to move itself on board and off. No attempt is made to make me feel comfortable and cared for, I am expected to do my very best to make things go smoothly.

It’s not that I don’t like London. But I don’t like its airports very much, I’m afraid.